The Bread Roll Ballet

Sir, I represent the estate of Charles Chaplin. I have a court order demanding an immediate halt to this unauthorized imitation. Boys? — Blue-Haired Lawyer, “Lady Bouvier’s Lover”

Yes, any Simpsons fan worth his sugar could identify Abe Simpson’s culinary choreography as an homage to the Little Tramp (especially when the other character walks in and says his name), but if you’re like me, you probably thought those were baked potatoes at the ends of his forks, didn’t ya?

Anyway, the iconic original comes midway through the 1925 film The Gold Rush, the plot of which I believe concerns some kind of stock car race. Let’s take a look:

Brilliant! But what most people don’t know is that Chaplin’s famous move was actually lifted from the tool chest of slapstick pioneer and alleged murderer Fatty Arbuckle. Here’s the original performance, from the 1917 short film The Rough House:

And nobody would give a shit I would be remiss if I failed to include another memorable clown’s reproduction of the scene, in some ’90s movie I don’t even feel like typing out:

The point here is that there are a finite number of ideas out there and a lot of scripts. You take away our right to steal ideas, where are they gonna come from? Not all of us are born with that singular genius.

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Crystal Pepsi

Listen carefully, and my words will shape images as clear as any TV show. It was a tumultuous time for our nation: the clear beverage craze gave us all a reason to live; the information superhighway showed the average person what some nerd thinks about Star Trek; and the domestication of the dog continued unabated. — Homer, “And Maggie Makes Three”

The year was 1992. Seriously! For a century, Americans had accepted opacity as the necessary evil for the enjoyment of pure cola refreshment. But change was in the winds. Play it again, Sam

Crystal Pepsi! Brewed by hippies, but distributed by a heartless, multinational corporation. Though I can’t recall ever sampling the beverage myself, the jury is split on whether it in fact had the same taste as Pepsi reggo, as the comments here attest. Although, see some damning testimony from one of the beverage’s chief architects:

People were saying we should stop and address some issues along the way, and they were right. It would have been nice if I’d made sure the product tasted good.

Unfortunately, Crystal P proved too beautiful to live. It was pulled from shelves shortly after its debut.

If you ask me, I would venture to say that the market is nice and primed for a clear cola revival. What with the success of the greenorganiclocallysourcedallnaturalingredients (marketing) movement, discerning consumers would likely jump at the chance to pay a slightly-inflated price for a bottle of “Pepsi Naked”, or however the rebranding might go. But until that magical day, enjoy this list of “alternative” liquids bottled by Pepsico over the years, including popular cross-border choices Pepsi Ice Cucumber and Pecsi.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t also direct you to that timeless SNL parody of the “Right Now” ad. I love you, too, Pepsi.

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The Barbie Liberation Organization

Oh, there’s something wrong with what my Stacy says. — Celeste

My Spidey Sense is tingling! Anybody call for a web slinger? — Malibu Stacy, “Lisa v. Malibu Stacy”

Thanks to Katie, who tipped us off to today’s reference: the Barbie Liberation Organization, whose members speak up for the glass-eyed figurines among us. In a coordinated act of culture jamming, the BLO went around switching the voice chips between Barbie and G.I. Joe dolls, striking a blow for women’s rights. Check it out:

Flash forward to Ancient Babylonia! While the work of the BLO briefly drew its share of media coverage, I suspect that the cost and time required to buy/steal the dolls, modify them, and then return them to the scene of the crime made a full-scale revolution impractical. For now.

And, remember, friends: As of this post, The Springfield Historical Society enters “lite mode”. Fewer posts, less fun. Resist the temptation to read or talk to loved ones, and maybe I’ll drop you a line someday from wherever I wind up in this crazy, old world.

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Marion Barry Cracks

Fernando, it’s M.B. — Mr. Burns

Ah, Marion Barry! Is it time for another shipment, already? — Fernando Vidal, “Raging Abe Simpson And His Grumbling Grandson In, ‘The Curse Of The Flying Hellfish’”

Forgive the second-rate pun, but “Marion Barry Uses Cocaine” was too cumbersome. F.V.’s attempted sale to M.B. takes aim at the widely-suspected drug use of the former Washington mayor, which of course was widely-confirmed by the time the above episode aired.

Punk’d! The above still is taken from camera footage of the then-53-year-old mayor in a rendezvous with a lady friend at a D.C. hotel. Of course, the entire meeting was a setup (the entire surveillance video, including the FBI swarm, can be seen here), and Barry was soon in hot water — for a city as troubled by drug use and related crime as Washington, having your fearless leader caught smoking crack is at the very least a hilarious twist. The mayor-for-life’s career was in serious jeopardy.

Well, not really. Barry was largely acquitted of his alleged crimes, serving a paltry six months in prison for an earlier drug charge. And then — get this — HE WAS RE-ELECTED MAYOR. And this was after he won a city council seat, running on the truly singular campaign slogan, “He may not be perfect, but he’s perfect for D.C.”

Today, as his website* affirms, he retains a seat on the city council. I guess the point of this story is that your own political prospects may not be as dismal as you think.

* Note the “scrubbing” of certain time periods in his biography.

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Ed McMahon Whacked Out On Wowee Sauce

Everyone’s always kissing your ass. — Sideshow Mel, “I Love Lisa”

Though Publishers Clearing House administrator and Carson sidekick Ed McMahon’s love for alcohol was no great secret in the showbiz circuit, it didn’t rear its head so forcefully as in this timeless clip:

That classic Carson-McMahon rhythm is certainly well-lubricated here. Of course, the sweetest plum is the raunchy entendre these two knuckleheads pull off at 1:19 in the above clip. Through clever writing and general bad attitude, The Simpsons certainly managed to tuck in its fair share of raunchy quips years later, but let us pay homage where it is due.

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Announcement

Well, friends, after 14 months and nearly 200 entries, I’ve decided to slow things down here at The Springfield Historical Society. Unfortunately, my temporal resources have been spread too thin in recent months, and, in a too-little-too-late effort to keep myself sane, I will therefore be winding the site down. Mostly.

What this means is that the three posts/week schedule I have maintained so rigorously will get a significant downgrade. We’re still going to see a full block of entries this week, but, after that, the update schedule will devolve to “whenever I feel like it” … probably somewhere between one post/week and one post/every other week.

One thing is certain: We will continue to see new posts, just without a definite schedule. To keep abreast of these unregimented updates, I recommend following @mcgarnagle_shs on Twitter, or using the RSS thingie.

And, as mentioned, we are still going full-bore this week. Monday’s post will be up in a few hours, after you’ve all recuperated from this bombshell. It’s about Ed McMahon. Grazie.

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The Streak

My Best Of Ray Stevens, featuring ‘The Streak’ album! So it was the dog that buried all our stuff. — Homer

Yes … the dog. — Marge, “Two Dozen And One Greyhounds”

Speaking of novelty records, celebrate your Friday with this very obnoxious song:

Meet Ray Stevens. Per his website:

Ray Stevens just thinks funny. His humor is keenly observant and rich in nuance.

Exactly. Much like our friend Johnny Calhoun, Stevens’ career has lately tended toward bold right-wing political statements, expressed through the joy of song.

Here’s his most recent disc, which contains such tracks as “My Uncle Sam”, “God Save Arizona”, and, in a cut that I presume is as keen and nuanced as they come, “Obama Budget Plan”. Believe it or not, I didn’t Photoshop this:

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